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  • Writer's pictureNathan Bonham

Custom building? Why hiring your builder is the first thing you need to do.

Every year I am approached by prospective clients who are searching for a lot or a tear down or who have land. Some have plans or some notion of what they want most have a number in mind but no idea if that gets them any where near their goals. Most are searching for the magical per sq. foot number from us and they usually have contacted other builders who have told them what they wanted or did not want to hear. Designing and building your dream home is not a process that should be approached like car shopping and most often ends badly for those that approach it that way.

Truth is most respectable builders are all working in the same band of profit and overhead and big differences will almost always assure that something is being left out. Serious clients should get recommendations and talk to a builders previous clients and see their work. Experience is crucial in todays market as there are more hidden obstructions and costs from municipal and environmental factors than ever before.

A good builder should be with you right from the beginning. They should be the first one you consult when you think you have found the right property. Recently we were able to help some clients get some onerous restrictions removed from a gorgeous piece of property that other buyers had passed on due to not understanding the potential with some work at the municipal level.

A good builder should be involved with your design process. Meeting your aesthetic, life and budget goals is not something that can be done in reverse. Quite often people will work with an architect or plan designer through complete plans and then think they will bid it out to several builders. Unless the client is financially strong enough to have no restrictions this usually ends badly too. The design professional is paid to draw your dreams. They do not have the responsibility to draw your budget and most often are not current with pricing. They often can draw in expensive issues to meet the clients demands without knowing they have done so.

A good builder goes to bat for you with the governing authorities as well as public utilities. Understanding what is legit and what is onerous can cost a client big bucks and those are the dollars that buy the details and fixtures they are dreaming of. Munis and utilities love to improve infrastructure with private dollars. If your builder isn't experienced and willing to go the miles this too can end badly. We recently went to bat for a client when the local muni wanted a very generous amount of streetscape improvement as well as some work that could have created a libel situation for them. We were able to reverse most of their demands to the satisfaction of both parties.

We believe everyone should build a dream home at least once in their lives. There is a great satisfaction to living in something that has your fingerprint on every aspect of its design and function. The process when done right is creative, fun and the result is a collaboration of those efforts between client, builder and design professional.

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